Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America observe Black Friday by listing three gifts each of them would give to people in office or connected to politics. Recipients of these special gifts include Jim Acosta, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, and more.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America prepare for Thanksgiving by each discussing three things for which they’re politically thankful. They discuss the positive aspects of the midterm elections, the big confirmation fight, and important news this year from the courts and the Congress. Happy Thanksgiving and join us again on Friday for another special edition of the Three Martini Lunch.
There is no shortage of pundits or experts telling us exactly what happened in last week’s midterm elections, but what the actual voters said might surprise some people.
Extensive exit polls were conducted on Election Day and other surveys quizzed tens of thousands of likely voters. Some conventional wisdom turned out to be right, but some did not.
Take health care. It was the number one issue given for driving a vote and of those who said health care was their top concern, a strong majority voted for Democrats. But for those who want to see changes to health care policy, how exactly would they like to change it?
Another major issue was the confirmation battle over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Lots of people said the debate mattered to them, but which party actually benefited the most?
Traditionally, men vote more often for Republicans and women prefer Democrats. That didn’t change. But in addition to the gender gap, we have the marriage gap. What does that look like and how did it change in 2018?
Listen to the full podcast as I discuss it all with Karlyn Bowman, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
Democrats succeeded in taking back the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday but the blue wave never happened in the Senate, as Republican challengers instead washed out four incumbent Democrats and helped to tighten the GOP’s grip on power.
“This was quite a cycle for high-quality conservative candidates and we’re just very pleased with how it all ended up,” said Senate Conservatives Fund President Ken Cuccinelli, a former Virginia attorney general.
Republicans scored a pick-up in Indiana, where businessman Mike Braun defeated incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly. In North Dakota GOP Rep. Kevin Cramer soundly beat Sen. Heidi Heitkamp. Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley scored a convincing victory over Sen. Claire McCaskill, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott upended three-term Sen. Bill Nelson, although that race appears headed for a recount.
Republicans also staved off challenges in Tennessee and Texas. Rep. Marsha Blackburn kept the Tennessee seat for the GOP with a resounding win over former Gov. Phil Bredesen and Sen. Ted Cruz fended off a fierce campaign from Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke.
Republicans lost a seat in Nevada, where Rep. Jacky Rosen defeated Sen. Dean Heller and Republican Matt Rosendale fell just short against Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester. In West Virginia, Republican Patrick Morrisey lost to Sen. Joe Manchin. Republican Rep. Martha McSally leads the Arizona Senate race against Rep. Kyrsten Sinema.
Listen to the full podcast as Cuccinelli explains how the Senate brawl over the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was “an epic turning point” in the battle for the Senate, why he thinks the Republicans really lost control of the House, and whether he thinks Virginia is now a blue state.
Friday afternoon, Maine Sen. Susan Collins gave an extensive explanation for her decision to support the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. Collins became the 50th vote in favor of Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
In her speech, Sen. Collins discussed Judge Kavanaugh’s judicial history and why she believes liberal concerns about Kavanaugh’s approach to health care, birth control, abortion, and executive power were not well-founded.
She also slammed the partisanship among lawmakers and outrage of special interest groups in the confirmation process. Collins also explained how she sorted through the allegations against Kavanaugh in the past few weeks.
Listen here for the full speech.
While the fate of the Brett Kavanaugh nomination remains up in the air, Senate Conservatives Fund President Ken Cuccinelli says the fight is uniting Republicans in a way that he thinks will dramatically boost GOP enthusiasm heading into the midterm elections in less than five weeks.
Predictions of a blue wave have dominated political chatter even though the Senate map strongly favors Republicans. Ten incumbent Democrats are running for re-election in state won by President Trump and pickups in Missouri, North Dakota, Indiana and even Montana and West Virginia are possible.
Democrats are champing at the bit to elect Democratic majorities to challenge President Trump and special elections show Republicans have struggled mightily to match the passion on the left.
Cuccinelli says the Kavanaugh fight seems to be changing that.
“The Democrat base was already fired up, so the enthusiasm gap is closing and that’s a very good thing for Patrick Morrisey (West Virginia) and Matt Rosendale (Montana), really all the conservatives running,” said Cuccinelli, whose group is actively supporting Morrisey, Rosendale and Missouri Senate hopeful Josh Hawley.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says there will be a vote this week on the Kavanaugh nomination, leading some Republicans to fear enthusiasm among the base might ebb before Election Day. but Cuccinelli says Democrats are doing a good job of making sure that doesn’t happen.
“They’re now saying things like, ‘Even if he gets on the court, this isn’t over. We’re going to try to impeach him,'” said Cuccinelli. “It lets the Republican base know, including apathetic voters who may or may not show up, that there’s still more at stake on this subject, even after the guy gets to the Supreme Court,” said Cuccinelli.
Listen to the full podcast to hear why red state Democrats who waffle on the Kavanaugh vote might be in more trouble than those who adamantly vote against him. He also breaks down the tough fights facing Republicans in seats they already hold.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America applaud Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley for not humoring scurrilous accusations against Brett Kavanaugh and for demanding Dr. Ford turn over the evidence she claims will back up her allegations. They also shake their heads as Sen. Jeff Flake suggests Kavanaugh’s demeanor towards committee Democrats is not something that belongs on the Supreme Court, making them wonder whether Republicans really have the votes for confirmation. And they throw up their hands at how both sides react to Ford’s former boyfriend stating under oath that she helped a friend prepare for a polygraph examination, which would contradict her sworn testimony. Some conservatives are treating the allegation as fact while liberals are suddenly horrified by the prospect of reporting uncorroborated accusations.
A former commissioner of the U.S. Civil Right Commission believes the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee played Dr. Christine Ford “like a pawn” and did not really care if the allegation was true so long as it helped to derail President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court and make her pro-choice allies happy.
Jennifer Braceras is an attorney and a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum. She says California Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s decision to hold onto Ford’s letter for weeks rather than bring the matter to the full committee betrays her real motivation.
“It’s not just a procedural mistake. It was a deliberate act on Sen. Feinstein’s part. What that tells me is that is not a woman who is concerned about the possibility of a serial predator taking a seat on the Supreme Court.
“She didn’t care if Dr. Ford was telling the truth or if she was making the whole thing up. Feinstein’s objective was not to protect the court from a potential rapist or to protect the court from Brett Kavanaugh. Her goal was to protect the court from any Trump nominee, which is why she held it,” said Braceras.
Braceras says the right thing to do would have been to ask the FBI to investigate to allegation without going public with it, and that if she deemed the accusation to be true, that she could have urged Republicans to join her in asking Trump to name another nominee.
“That’s what I would have done, but Dianne Feinstein wasn’t concerned about that, because she didn’t believe that,” said Braceras.
In addition, Braceras says the Democrats are doing the bidding of Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice groups because Kavanaugh could tilt the balance of the court in a way Neil Gorsuch could not by replacing Antonin Scalia last year.
“The left has long believed that the only thing that stands between women and the back alley is Anthony Kennedy. That’s why when Kennedy retired, they became hysterical,” said Braceras. “So they were going to fight tooth and nail to stop any jurisprudential conservative from filling that seat. They made that clear from the beginning.”
Braceras does worry that confirming Kavanaugh under such a cloud – even without any corroborating evidence – could stain the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, but she says that is Plan B for the Democrats if Kavanaugh is confirmed.
She says eroding the legitimacy of the court is the the long game for the Democrats and Republicans need to play their own long game.
“We need to double down on teaching basic American civics. The reason that we’re always caught playing defense in these battles is because most Americans don’t understand the proper role of the court,” said Braceras.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America react as Kavanaugh accuser Julie Swetnick fails even to grasp the timeline of events this summer and then radically walks back her allegations that Brett Kavanaugh drugged and raped girls while in high school. They also wince as the National Republican Congressional Committee pulls back major support for four embattled House incumbents. And they roll their eyes as CNN asks Sen. Mazie Hirono if allegations that Kavanaugh threw ice at someone in a car 33 years ago is disqualifying for his bid to be a Supreme Court justice and Hirono gives another ludicrous response.
Washington is abuzz this weekend over news that will most likely result in learning nothing new about Dr. Christine Ford’s sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
On Friday, just hours after announcing he would support Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake announced he would vote the nomination out of committee but not support it on the Senate floor unless an FBI investigation lasting no more than one week examines Ford’s allegations.
But will the FBI probe accomplish anything more than the Senate Judiciary Committee did in gathering statements from all the supposed witnesses?
“Nothing. They’re going to repeat what the committee has already done,” said former federal prosecutor and Justice Department official Victoria Toensing.
Toensing says the FBI will simply interview the witnesses and write down their responses. Agents will provide no analysis.
“They don’t ever make a decision about whether this person is credible or not credible. They just write down the words they are told and they give it and they give it to the committee then. It’s the committee that decides whether it’s truthful or the allegation is serious or not serious,” said Toensing.
She says this is how the confirmation process is supposed to play out and the Senate Judiciary Committee is supposed to investigate any allegations confidentially. Toensing blasted California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the committee, for her handling of Ford’s allegation, including assisting Ford behind the scenes prior to an eleventh hour publicizing of the accusation.
She says Feinstein is being rewarded by Flake for bad behavior.
“What Dianne Feinstein did was outrageous and I’m sorry that she’s getting rewarded for it by getting this extra time but the Republicans didn’t have any choice,” said Toensing, who says Flake’s compromise is just the latest example in how the two parties operate.
“The Republicans just aren’t very good at fighting. They’re not. Democrats know how to kill. Republicans bring a little lasso to the gunfight,” said Toensing.
Toensing says all of this is a ploy from Democrats to delay confirmation, pointing out that for weeks Democrats groused about not getting enough paperwork from Kavanaugh’s background. Now they demand an FBI investigation and already some are publicly wondering whether a week is enough time.
Toensing says we’ll see the same talking points a week from now.
“I predict that next Thursday night or Friday morning, when this week is up, that the Democrats will find reasons to say, ‘We can’t just go ahead now. Look at this.’ They’re going to ask for another postponement. They’re like a drowning person, grabbing for anything just to stay afloat,” said Toensing.